Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Biofumigation - Is it An Option?

Biofumigation is relatively new, although a few growers have been involved for maybe 10 years plus here in Australia.  Many that trial the concept are vegetable growers with strong pressure from soil borne diseases or nematodes on their operations that can be controlled at times, but with expensive agrochemicals.  However, there is concern that the products might disappear due to regulatory issues.

The idea of using biofumigation then becomes a viable option to test / evaluate and maybe, implement.

Both nematodes and some soil borne diseases have been controlled / managed successfully, and areas in SW WA, Tasmania and Victoria are actively engaged while R and D is also occurring in SE Queensland areas eg Lockyer Valley, a big vegetable growing area.  There is also some evidence of effects on seed in the soil and small seedlings. 

Essentially it involves using highly specific cover crops that are mulched into the ground.  The factor that offers the help is the production of highly complex sulfur compounds that act as seed and seedling, disease and nematode “killers” with these compounds released during the cutting and maceration  by incorporation into the top 50 – 200mm of the ground where most of the target organisms are present.

Probably too complex to discuss here in detail, but more information is readily available.

This offers a good overview of the technology, and there are more farmer fact sheets available from a number of sources.

The Italians are very active in R and D and moving steadily towards wider use of the techniques, as are some other European areas, with Australia and NZ also active.

Unfortunately, not so much development seems to be occurring in warmer regions eg subtropical and tropical areas, where some of the species used may not be so easily grown.

More sophisticated technology used on the farm, once again.  Very cunning application of a simple technology.

A recent webinar should be available to view in the next week or so - the technology is worth investigating for growers of vegetables and similar crops.  It might also have applicaton for turf crops, as commercial products made of pelletted crop materials are also becoming available.  

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